Over and over and over, I read about the decline in the popularity of golf.
It’s too expensive.
It takes too long to play.
It’s too difficult.
It isn’t fun.
Most of this criticism is conjured up by people who don’t play golf, benefit by writing controversial articles and/or those who relish bad news.
As I see it, core golfers have never had it so good.
They have plenty of courses available at reasonable rates, equipment is selling at discounted prices, technology is helping players to improve and course operators are trying absolutely everything to ensure a pleasant atmosphere.
There are problems for owners, manufacturers and suppliers because of a weak economy and over supply of courses and equipment, but these are temporary. Market need drives its own vehicle and adjustments will be come in a natural way, according to consumer’s wishes.
Everyone is aware of the many attempts to re-design the game to attract new golfers. We have foot golf, 15-inch holes, 12-hole games, executive style layouts and Frisbee golf.
Each of these is supposed to appeal to a market segment that will hopefully enter a new sport and eventually end up becoming core golfers. It seems as though the actual game itself is no longer capable of providing enough benefits to provide sustained growth.
It also seems that through some form of trickery, masses of people will find their way through a maze of options to eventually become golfers.
Golf has gone through multiple economic peaks and valleys over the years and survived as did other sports. Golf was poking along until Arnold Palmer woke it up from a deep sleep. Today, there is nothing wrong with the game of golf.
As administrators, all we must do is continue to try to improve our own facilities until the next Arnie comes along and catapults us forward, each of us can only work on doing our very best each day.
Strangely, the doom and gloom prophesy is centered in North America and parts of Europe.
In Asia and India, participation is up and the game is showing signs of unbelievable growth. So, if the game is so uninviting and unattractive that we require gimmicks to promote it, why is it flourishing in other countries?
In case you haven’t noticed, the LPGA Tour is well represented by players from outside North America and the men’s developmental tours are strongly supported by players who hail from outside this continent.
It is only a question of time until these players improve their skills and begin not only to win but dominate.
In my opinion, the PGA Tour would be well advised to look beyond its borders and begin transforming into a global tour.
If it doesn’t, somebody will identify an opportunity to establish a tour in direct competition. Greg Norman had this vision years ago and was ostracized for it.
Today, the time has come. The sleeping giants are awakening.
Golfers around the world are bonded to each other by one universal thread – a common set of rules. If we start to change the basic look of the game into something eccentric for profit only, we might just accomplish that.
Be careful what you wish for because you just might get it.